‘And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?’ Matthew 6:27
We all know that anxiety is useless, it achieves nothing, but it seems that we have created a way of life, which drenches us in anxiety. The early Christians certainly knew what it was to live with anxiety: they faced the daily threat of imprisonment, torture and execution, but in some ways their anxiety was more straightforward, easier to manage. We may no longer face the daily threat of violence but we are assailed by a legion of anxieties: our screens shout anxieties at us; our work makes us anxious; our school makes us anxious; our striving for the endless acquisition of things makes us anxious. Anxiety eats away at us; it knots our bodies and poisons our dealings with others. It is our constant companion; it lies with us in our beds at night and chants in our ear. It seems that there is no escape, it seems that anxiety is in the air we breathe and so we seek to drown it out, with drink, with drugs, with whatever distractions we can find. Is there no escape?
‘When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul.’ Psalm 94:19
When those early Christians were languishing in foul Roman prisons they were not fearful, they did not lament, they were full of joy, secure in the knowledge of God’s love. The Bible is full of references to anxiety, for anxiety is a barrier to faith. In his letters to the early church communities, Saint Paul is fully aware of how anxiety might prey upon the minds of his fellow Christians. He reminds them that prayer is the cure for anxiety.
‘Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made known to God.’ Philippians 4:6
‘Do not be anxious about anything’. How many of us can say that we follow Saint Paul’s instruction? How many of us have banished anxiety from our lives? If you have faith, real faith, there is no space for anxiety. Concern, yes, concern is constructive but anxiety acts like rust. Transform your anxiety into active concern by turning to God’s love. Work to right those things, which you believe to be wrong and accept that there are those things that you cannot change: put your
trust in the Lord.